Fact Sheet

Overview 

Chartered in 1947, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest and foremost organization for public relations professionals. PRSA is responsible for representing, educating, setting standards of excellence, and upholding principles of ethics for its members and, in principle, the $4 billion U.S. public relations profession.

Mission

With the vision to unify, strengthen and advance the public relations profession, PRSA helps to build value and demand for, and global understanding of, public relations.

PRSA also helps to advance public relations professionals by offering professional development opportunities through continuing education programs, information exchange forums, and research projects conducted on the national and local levels.

Membership 

To qualify for membership in PRSA, individuals must devote a substantial portion of their time (at least 50 percent) to the paid professional practice of public relations or to the teaching or administration of a public relations curriculum in an accredited college or university. Individuals also must agree to abide by the PRSA Member Code of Ethics.

Currently, there are more than 21,000 PRSA members, including professionals from public relations agencies, corporations, government, health care institutions, military, professional services firms, associations, nonprofit organizations, and academia.
 

Initiatives 

Ethics and Professional Standards — Recognizing that the level of public trust sought by its members requires a special obligation to operate ethically, PRSA wrote its first code of ethics in 1950. Today, ethical practice is the most important obligation of PRSA members.

The PRSA Code of Ethics is a guide for PRSA members as they carry out their professional responsibilities. The intent is to provide a code that inspires ethical behavior, rather than emphasizes punishment for unethical conduct. While the code is voluntary, members must pledge to uphold code principles each time they renew their annual membership. Additionally, the PRSA Board of Directors retains the right to bar from membership or expel from the Society any individual who has been or is sanctioned by a government agency or convicted in a court of law of an action that is in violation of this code.

Advocacy — To help advance the public relations profession, PRSA’s advocacy efforts demonstrate the leadership role of practitioners within the profession by sounding a clear, consistent PRSA voice on important global issues of our time. 

PRSA leadership has taken public positions on the use of front groups, paid political spokespersons, anonymous Internet postings and other communications ethics issues, including those raised by the Federal Communications Commission's recent guidelines concerning "blogola."

The Business Case for Public Relations (TM) — The Business Case for Public RelationsTM is an industry advocacy campaign intended to foster more accurate and better-informed perceptions of the value and role of public relations in the diverse organizations it serves. The goal is to drive industry recognition and growth by helping professionals in the field educate key audiences about public relations' roles, outcomes and strategic value, while enhancing its reputation.

Over time, this initiative will come to include research, practical tools, influencer and media outreach, and targeted career development opportunities. It also will celebrate the positive influence our industry has had in the service of the public good.

Professional Development — Each year, PRSA offers its members hundreds of professional development seminars, webinars and teleseminars, many of which are free. Programming is organized into several categories, including communications planning and evaluation, management and  leadership, media relations, trust and reputation, techniques and tactics, and technology and trends.

PRSA also is an advocate of certification for public relations professionals. The Society offers a Study Guide for the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations through the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), as well as an online demonstration of the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, which gives prospective candidates the experience of sitting for the computer-based examination.

Diversity — Having begun its first diversity outreach more than 20 years ago, PRSA continues to embrace and support members of diverse races, ages, genders, sexual orientation and ethnicities so that its membership can continue to grow and more closely reflect the demographics of the communities it serves.

Each year, PRSA’s National Diversity Committee presents up to four Diversity Awards to local Society Chapters that embody and advance key diversity values. PRSA also maintains a Diversity Toolkit containing documents and materials to help Chapters, Districts and Sections develop diversity within their organizations and sponsor multicultural communications seminars.

Organizational Structure 

The business and affairs of PRSA are managed and controlled by a board of directors consisting of four officers and 12 directors, all elected by the National PRSA Assembly at its annual meeting, and the immediate past chair. The board of directors is supported by Society staff members, as well as committees and task forces necessary to assist in the conduct of Society affairs.

Under its national structure, PRSA has 111 Chapters across the country that provide valuable connections to local business and public relations communities. Often, Chapters sponsor their own events, such as professional development programs, membership meetings and awards programs.

PRSA Chapters are organized into 10 Districts nationwide. Many Districts host annual conferences that provide valuable professional development and networking opportunities.

PRSA also maintains micro-communities formed around specific interests, industry experience, practice areas and organizational settings, including 14 Professional Interest Sections and the College of Fellows. With forums to increase professional knowledge and effectiveness, these communities provide important contacts and precisely relevant learning opportunities.

PRSA Foundation 

The PRSA Foundation, established in 1990, is a philanthropic patron of the public relations profession. It is committed to the development of programs to advance public relations research, education and scholarships, while encouraging contributions from those who stand to benefit from the profession’s advancement.

College of Fellows 

The PRSA College of Fellows honors seasoned practitioners and educators who have made significant contributions to the public relations profession. Criteria for admission to the College of Fellows includes: Accredited PRSA membership, 20 years experience practicing or teaching public relations, demonstrated exceptional capability as a practitioner or educator, personal and professional qualities that serve as a role model for other practitioners, and unusual and exceptional contributions to the field of public relations.

PRSSA 

More than 10,000 students are members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which boasts more than 300 Chapters at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.

Conferences 

The PRSA International Conference is widely considered to be the world’s foremost event for public relations professionals. The event, which annually draws 2,000-3,000 of the best and brightest professional communicators from around the world, offers hundreds of professional development sessions led by experts in a variety of public relations disciplines.

PRSA also sponsors several annual Professional Interest Section conferences.

Awards 

PRSA recognizes excellence in public relations through a variety of awards programs.

PRSA’s Silver Anvil Award represents the pinnacle of achievement and the highest standards of performance in the public relations profession. Symbolizing the forging of public opinion, the Silver Anvil is annually awarded to organizations which have successfully addressed a contemporary issue with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness. Winning programs must incorporate sound research, planning, execution and evaluation.

 Other PRSA awards include:

  • The Bronze Anvil, for tactical excellence in a broader public relations campaign.
  • The Gold Anvil, for PRSA members whose accomplishments have made major contributions to the profession.
  • The Patrick Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to PRSA, for members who have significantly contributed to advancing PRSA at the Chapter and National levels.
  • The Public Relations Professional of the Year Award, for the PRSA member who best exemplifies public relations excellence in a given year.
  • The Outstanding Educator Award, for the PRSA member who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of public relations education through college or university teaching.
  • The Paul M. Lund Public Service Award, for a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the Society.
  • The Atlas Award, for a public relations practitioner who has made extraordinary contributions to the practice and profession of public relations on a global scale over the span of his or her career.
  • The Jackson Jackson & Wagner Behavioral Science Prize, awarded by the PRSA Foundation, which recognizes individual behavioral science researchers whose scholarly work enhances the understanding of the concepts and theories that contribute to the effectiveness of public relations practice.

Publications 

PRSA publications provide PRSA members and the public relations community at large with timely sources of what’s new and what’s news in public relations. They include:

  • Public Relations Tactics, a monthly tabloid-style newspaper featuring news, trends and how-to information for professionals. Tactics has received more than 50 publications awards since its inception in 1994.
  • The Strategist, a quarterly magazine for executive-level practitioners that features expert contributors engaging in intelligent, well-reasoned debate and insightful commentary concerning the most demanding public relations issues.
  • Public Relations Journal, a quarterly, open-access, peer-reviewed electronic research journal facilitating the transfer of knowledge from the educational community to the professional community.

Leadership

Joseph E. Cohen, APR, 2014 Chair 
Kathy Barbour, APR, 2014 Chair-Elect
Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, Immediate Past Chair
William M. Murray, CAE,  CEO

Headquarters   

33 Maiden Lane, 11th Fl.
New York, NY 10038-5150
(212) 460-1400
www.prsa.org



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